A cortisol surge mediates the enhanced expression of pig intestinal pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase during weaning. Academic Article uri icon


  • Citrulline synthesis from glutamine is enhanced remarkably in enterocytes of weanling pigs, but the molecular mechanism(s) involved are not known. The objective of this study was to determine whether a cortisol surge mediates the enhanced expression of intestinal citrulline-synthetic enzymes during weaning. Jejunal enterocytes were prepared from 29-d-old weanling pigs treated with or without metyrapone (an inhibitor of cortisol synthesis), or from age-matched unweaned pigs. The mRNA levels and activities of phosphate-dependent glutaminase (PDG), pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthase (P5CS), ornithine aminotransferase (OAT), carbamoyl-phosphate synthase I (CPS-I) and ornithine carbamoyltransferase (OCT) were determined. The mRNA levels for PDG, P5CS, OAT and OCT were 139, 157, 102 and 55% higher, respectively, in weanling pigs compared with suckling pigs. The activities of PDG and P5CS were 38 and 692% higher, respectively, in weanling pigs compared with unweaned pigs, but the activities of OAT, CPS-I and OCT did not differ between these two groups of pigs. The effects of metyrapone administration to weanling pigs were as follows: 1) prevention of a cortisol surge, 2) abolition of the increases in both mRNA levels and activity of P5CS, 3) no alteration in the mRNA levels and activities of PDG and CPS-I, 4) increases in the mRNA levels for OAT (216%) and OCT (39%) and in OAT activity (30%), and 5) prevention of the increase in intestinal synthesis of citrulline from glutamine. These results suggest that increased P5CS activity reflects in large part the increased levels of P5CS mRNA and is responsible for the increased synthesis of citrulline from glutamine in enterocytes of weanling pigs; these increases may be mediated by a cortisol surge during weaning that can be blocked by metyrapone administration.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, G., Meininger, C. J., Kelly, K., Watford, M., & Morris, S. M.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Wu, G||Meininger, CJ||Kelly, K||Watford, M||Morris, SM

publication date

  • January 2000